Violet's birth story
November 04, 2011
These were taken on Monday the 2nd of May, one week before I gave birth. The following is the very long version of what happened. Rob's version will follow some day soon (it won't be this long, I promise!)
Monday the 9th of May 2011, I had been off work on maternity leave for 1 week of the 3 I had planned to have off before the baby, due on the 24th of May, came. During that week Rob had been pushing me to pack a bag for the hospital, actually he'd been asking me for a month but I kept putting it off and putting it off. I think I'd been so stressed out due to a couple of external factors that I really needed some time to myself to relax or calm down and packing a bag meant that there was really a baby coming very soon. I'd also, I believe due to those two external factors, been experiencing Braxton Hicks regularly for about 6 weeks prior to that Monday.
That morning I woke up feeling normal. About 24-36 hours earlier i'd experienced something gross to do with the bathroom that I'd been told was something the body sometimes did when it was getting ready to labour. I'd even thought at the time "I bet I go into labour in the next day or two" but I was only kidding with myself and the thought had already left my mind. We had a doctor's appointment in the city at 2pm that day and due to numerous reasons and misadventures Rob had never been able to make it to an appointment. That day was going to be the day he finally got to hear Violet's heartbeat outside of an ultrasound. I started getting what I thought were Braxton Hicks around 1:00pm. They'd never been particuarly bad, I mean there had been some occasions at work where I'd had to go out the back and rock/work through them with breathing but other than that they hadn't really stopped me from doing what I was doing.
So I insisted we get going. We walked to the tram stop near our house, stopping a couple of times for the contractions but they were short and most of them were not painful. Rob nearly turned us around to go home a couple of times but I was determined that he would hear her heartbeat and some stupid Braxton Hicks weren't going to get in the way. It was better on the tram, the contractions calmed right down when I was sitting. I remember there were some REALLY annoying tourists standing near us, one guy in particular and they were bragging to each other about a whole bunch of 'cool' things like getting so wasted they woke up blah blah blah and couldn't remember how they got there and blah blah blah. They were grinding my gears so badly I wanted to scream at them to shut up which is unusual because ordinarily I would be laughing so hard at them (on the inside). It got to the point where I wanted to get off the tram early because I was so irritated. The contractions were still there but they weren't really painful, they just were. Like "oh, there's another one. Oh, it's gone again". The whole time Rob was trying to convince me to turn around and go home. It was totally manageable for me but I guess I have no poker face and during pregnancy I really kicked any poker face I do have out. Even if it was only a little bit of pain and I probably could have hidden it (and would have before pregnancy), it was so nice to have him worry out loud or rub my back, squeeze my legs or cuddle me. It made me feel cared for and not alone, so I let all of the soreness and pains of pregnancy show. I was a little bit of a wuss.
We went past the building where we were both working at Fashion Week when we met. Our stop was just across the road from it and we hopped off the tram. We took a couple of steps towards the street and a little gush of liquid sprayed down my legs. I looked at Rob and said "baby, there's water coming out of me". I turned around and there were splashes of it on the platform. I was in a little bit of denial so I decided that I'd probably wet myself, the doctor had told me I might. Besides, whose water breaks on Swanston Street, the main street of Melbourne, in front of everyone? Rob wanted to go home. I said I didn't think it was broken water and I wanted to go to a public toilet and see if it was pee. There was one in the special (to us) building. Rob was pretty adamant that we should go home but I insisted. The contractions were back at this point and even though they still didn't hurt too badly, I could feel that they were different. Still, I went into a public toilet and sniffed my panties. Yes, I did. To see if I'd peed my pants. I hadn't. Although, it didn't smell like pickles, it just smelled like nothing. Rob asked a cleaning lady coming out of the bathroom to go back in and check on me. I was giddy and nervous by then as I knew it was happening. I was going to give birth today. She called "Hanna?", I said "yes. yes. I'm here!". She said "Rob's worried about you, is everything ok? He said you might be in labour..", I said "yep. yep. yep. I'm FINE! thank you!". I was a little bit manic. It was 2pm.
I came out of the bathroom with a weird giddy, nervous grin that came on and off my face for the next few hours, I told Rob that it definitely wasn't pee. He wanted to go home. I knew from birth education that I probably had a good 10 hours or so before anything really happened so I insisted that we continue on to the doctor. He was seriously confused but I was not going to be swayed. He asked if I was sure probably 5 times in the half a block we walked before I asked the time. It was 2:10pm and our appointment was at 2pm. It was probably another 5-10 min walk to the doctors office and our appointment was only 15 minutes long. We'd missed it. I was so disappointed. I finally agreed to get in a cab and go home as Rob was pointing out, I didn't have a labour bag packed. I started timing the contractions with the stop watch on my phone when we got in the cab. Rob and I both agreed that I was doing it wrong though because they were only 3 and a half minutes apart. We'd been told to go to the hospital when they were 5 minutes apart and that that would be a long time after everything got started. So obviously I was timing them wrong. I knew I wasn't but at the same time, I had to be.
I called my brother from the cab, I wanted him to drive me to the hospital and tell Violet's godmother Jessirose to come to the hospital too. I didn't want the cab driver to know that I was sitting on his nice seat with pants and a dress covered in amniotic fluid though so I tried to be really cryptic. Because that's not weird. He got the point but he must have been weirded out by my crypticness because he was doing it back. "soooo...'it's' happening? really? shooooooouuuuuulllllddddd I come home?" he said, neither of us mentioned birth or labour. He was at school and hadn't driven so he had to catch the tram home and would be a little while. I told him to come as fast as he could. Rob and I got home and my brother must have called my mum because she called me. Rob went to frantically pack all the things we needed and I decided there was no way I was pooping during labour, I wanted to try to go now. So mum gave me sage advice like "stay calm, everythings going to be alright" while I sat on the toilet and tried to go. Rob came into the toilet at some point and I yelled "go away! i'm doing number twos!". Yeah, all modesty had gone already. I talked to my mum about the 3 minute contractions and she told me not to worry, sometimes they sped up and slowed down during the course of labour. My brother got home and he and Rob packed the bag together. I knelt on all fours on our bed, rocking back and forth. Things were getting a little painful now and i knew I was timing my contractions right. They were 2.5 minutes apart.
I decided to call the hospital. I said I was sure I was timing them wrong but my water had broken an hour ago and my contractions seemed to be two and half minutes apart, I was a first time mum, should I come down? She said yes, absolutely. I yelled to the boys that we had to go and they started loading up the car. There was A LOT of stuff. That's what happens people, when you don't pack a labour bag and you wait until you IN LABOUR to pack it. The kitchen sink gets packed too. I got in the back of the car (my 18 labour bags were in the boot and the boys in the front). Peak hour traffic was just starting but wasn't too bad yet and the boys were cracking jokes like it was going out of fashion. I'd be laughing and all of a sudden a contraction would come on and I'd be telling them to shut up because they weren't funny.
We got to the hospital and Rob and I went in while Danny parked the car. I had to wait while they checked me in and then they bought me through to one of the emergency exam rooms to see whether I should actually be there (they send you home if you come down before you're 5 minutes apart). Things were starting to get pretty painful and I was moaning during each contraction. Lying down sucked, so I stood up and leaned again their metal cabinets. Rob finally got to hear the heartbeat. After about 10 minutes of exams and being left alone (with Rob) in the room the nurse finally came back to tell me they were going to take me up to the labour ward. It was 3:49pm. I think I walked to the labour suite. I can't really remember. I really really wanted a bath but no one offered me anything and I kind of had the sense that it was all a bit too late for that. No one had said anything to me about how far through labour I was. The midwife was young and still being supervised by a senior midwife who stood back and just pretty much observed. I got on to bed and the young one went to her computer to do some paperwork. No one checked how dialated I was.
Rob held my hand through all the contractions which were getting painful enough that i was making loud moaning noises and writhing on the bed. I can't remember when I ripped my clothes off but i did, all of them, I didn't care who saw what. I was hot and hurting and the clothes felt like they were rubbing my skin off. At some point about half an hour later I started telling the midwife I needed to push. I really needed to push. She just kept telling me I couldn't. I didn't understand, I didn't have a choice. I was physically stopping myself from pushing but I could feel my body rebelling and pushing a little on it's own. I alternated between asking for drugs and asking to push. I was shouting. The answer about drugs came from the senior midwife who always said "just get through this contraction and then we'll talk about pain relief". The contraction would pass, I'd be panting with my eyes rolling back in my head but we wouldn't talk about drugs. Looking back, she must have known already but not wanted to tell me in case I freaked out. The young one answered my requests to push with the same thing every time: "you can't, not yet. If you push before you're ready you'll swell everything up and it will make it too hard for the baby to come down". It got to the point where I shouted at her "LADY. I HEARD YOU THE FIRST TIME!". I think I called her lady from then on, like "lady, i reallllly need to push. Please lady, I have to".
I have no idea of timeline but she must have gotten sick of me begging, or maybe of being called lady because she snapped at me "fine, do you want me to check how dilated you are?". I shouted YES! I'm pretty sure no one had checked me down there at that point. Maybe the older one did once when i very first arrived, but I could be wrong. Certainly no one had checked me since I'd been screaming about pushing or since I'd taken my clothes off and been grabbing at the bed head behind me screaming my lung out through each contraction. She went down there and looked up at the senior midwife with a look on her face. The senior lady went down there too and then came around to hold my hand. She said "we think we can see the hair so if you feel like you need to push you can stop fighting it and push with the need. Don't do it unless you need to though". THEY COULD SEE THE HAIR?!?! That meant I'd been having a baby this whole time and no one dickens believed me! So I said "right, can I have some drugs now please?". The senior midwife squeezed my hand tighter and said "it's a little bit too late for that now". I took a deep breath and said "ok, can I have some gas then please". She told me it was too late for that too, really. If I really wanted it I could have it but it was better now if I didn't. Once I heard that everything just sort of clicked into place. I'd been so confused about what drugs to have, I knew I wanted some but they all had such big down sides that I didn't want that I couldn't decide which was the lesser of the necessary evils. Hearing that I couldn't have any made me realise that I'd wanted a natural birth all along but didn't think I was strong enough. Now I had no choice and relief (and a little bit of fear) washed over me. I was ready to get on with it.
So I pushed. And pushed. I held Rob's hand and I held the senior midwife's hand too. I squeezed the shit out of both of them. They told me when to do short, quick pushes and I ruled at them. In fact, I ruled at labour. I screamed like a demon, like on tv shows when women give birth and you think "man, that's some over the top acting!", that was me. I said I couldn't do it as I was pushing out the head, even though I WAS doing it but I did everything they told me, just like they told me to. Out came her head and the cord must have been wrapped around her neck because I heard the young midwife say that it was and that she'd never done this before and could the senior midwife come and help. Everything was hazy and dark at the edges. They pulled her out in one go and put her on my belly. I thought the way her wet body made a slapping sound against my tummy sounded like a slab of meat. I also thought she was more like a kitten than a human. I must have been pretty out of it. It was 5:22pm and I'd been in labour for 4 hours and 22 minutes. I was in what they classified as active labour for 52 minutes.
I don't actually remember much after that, it was all like a bit of a dream. I held onto her and she cried a little, then she breastfed, then my brother and Jessirose came to visit. Then a couple of hours lated the suture doctor, who had had 4 patients before me to attend to, came to stitch up my second degree tear. They gave me gas for the numbing needles and man, I was so high. I couldn't answer the midwife and i couldn't stop giggling. So I stopped using it. It felt too weird and I was still holding the baby. I was scared I would squeeze her too tight. We ate hot chips while she was stitching me up which the staff thought was weird. I was hungry though! When it was time to move from the labour suite to my room Rob pushed my wheelchair. He had bought me a fluffy pink robe and fluffy pink socks as a joke and made me wear them. He also did a wheelie with my wheelchair in front of all the nurses hanging out at the desk. He said later he kind of expected them to all applaud as we went past (for having had a baby). I'll let him tell his thoughts and experiences though. Including the part where I told him to "get off [his] effing phone" during labour. I can't believe I only pushed for 17 minutes. I know it hurt but that makes it feel like I could do it all over again, no problem.
Welcome to the world Violet Lulu Mason, thanks for making as surprising an entrance as we had come to expect from you.
See her feet? They turned to normal position on their own over a couple of months.
5:30am Tuesday May 10th.
this is seriously what her hair looked like when she was born. brown with blonde tips. It's growing in strawberry blonde now and you can still see the brown ends and blonde tips!